Every quarter we spotlight one of our pro bono attorneys, who is working hard to provide critical legal services to veterans in our communities. For the summer 2017 quarter, we are pleased to spotlight Chessie Thacher, for her outstanding service to veterans as a volunteer attorney and her dedication to Swords to Plowshares’ Legal Pro Bono Program.
Chessie is an associate at Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, where she represents individuals and businesses in a range of high-stakes criminal and civil matters. Chessie graduated from Stanford Law School in 2011, and then clerked for the Hon. Sidney R. Thomas on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Hon. Robert P. Patterson, Jr. in the District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 2015, Chessie began working with the Swords to Plowshares Pro Bono Program, representing veteran R.E., a Vietnam-era U.S. Marine Corps service member who was honorably discharged in 1979.
Upon learning of this recognition, Chessie let out a whoop of surprise, stating, “Working on behalf of veteran R.E., and with the very talented team at Swords to Plowshares, it has been such a privilege and an honor.” She continued: “It was really frustrating that R.E. was entitled to benefits that had been unjustly denied to him, and it’s been immensely rewarding to use my legal skills to get him those benefits.”
At the time Chessie took on representation, veteran R.E. was homeless with a monthly income of only $300. He was experiencing a host of physical and mental health issues connected to his time in service. In particular, R.E. had been the victim of multiple sexual assaults, and this experience had left him with post-traumatic stress disorder; unable to hold down gainful employment, and also unable to maintain any long-term personal relationships. R.E. bounced around the country for years struggling with alcohol and drug problems, while unsuccessfully seeking assistance from the VA, which refused to recognize his issues as service-connected.
After painstaking research and through multiple rounds of briefing, Chessie advocated before VA adjudicators and, as a result, the VA finally granted veteran R.E. a 100% disability compensation rating, which includes VA medical care, nearly $3,000 per month in federal VA disability payments, and back payments. Most importantly, with these benefits in hand, veteran R.E. now finally has security for his future.
“Chessie has been a zealous advocate for her veteran client,” said Swords to Plowshares Legal Director Kate Richardson. “The commitment and empathy she displayed in working with a particularly vulnerable veteran is exceptional, and the successful outcome she achieved as a result has already made a significant difference in his life.”
Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of this veteran, Chessie, and congratulations!